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Hayat jurors continue to weigh cases

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Posted: Friday, April 14, 2006 10:00 pm

Jurors tasked with deciding whether a Lodi father and son had ties to terrorism went home for the weekend Friday afternoon without reaching verdicts.

Umer Hayat’s jurors, who had asked for replays of his videotaped FBI interviews, gave a note to the judge Friday saying that, “due to the intensity of the information,” they only wanted to watch an hour at a time and take breaks of up to an hour in-between.

Not counting pauses and extended breaks when agents left the room, the 48-year-old man’s videos last about six hours. The jury watched one hour Friday, resumed deliberating for an hour and then left for the weekend at 4 p.m.

Umer and Hamid Hayat were tried together with separate juries, which are deliberating separately.

Hamid Hayat’s jurors passed the day without giving any notes to the judge. They had previously asked to leave at 3 p.m. Friday, and they will begin viewing the 23-year-old’s FBI interviews at 9 a.m. Monday. Umer Hayat’s jurors will also return then.

Friday marked the second day of deliberations for Hamid Hayat’s jury, which got the case a day before his father’s jury. Those jurors must decide if Hamid Hayat is guilty of three counts of lying to the FBI, as well as one count of providing material support to terrorists.

Umer Hayat is charged with two counts of lying to FBI agents, and if the note and their physical expressions Friday are any indication, his jurors might not reach a verdict soon.

Several jurors took notes while watching the videotape Friday, but one man appeared to take no notes and at times leaned back with his arms crossed. He shifted in his seat, once yawning and later leaning forward to briefly put his head in his hands.

Throughout the trial, jurors have been under strict orders to avoid speaking about the case to anyone and to avoid news coverage of the high-profile case. They were allowed to spend their breaks and lunches as they pleased.

Deliberations, though, bring more restrictions. A U.S. Marshal must stand guard at all times outside their jury room at all times. While they are deliberating, the marshal confiscates their cell phones so they have no outside contact.

Jurors must also take their breaks and lunches together under the escort of marshals. For lunch Friday, they went to the second-floor courthouse cafeteria, and one jury took lunch back to the deliberation room.

They are allowed to go home at night — but must not discuss the case.

For attorneys and the judge, everything else is on hold because jurors could have a question or verdict at a moment’s notice. U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. handled other matters Friday, but interrupted a sentencing discussion so he could talk to attorneys about the Hayat case.

And, when the jurors want to watch videos again, Burrell and the attorneys must also spending hours in the courtroom, watching videos they’ve seen more than once. Attorneys likely watched them multiple times before trial even started.

When both juries are watching videos Monday, a magistrate judge will sit on the bench in one courtroom where jurors are watching, but any question or legal matter will be handled by Burrell.

The defendants also sit in the courtroom, once again watching their own statements to the FBI.

Umer Hayat, seated Friday behind the defense table in a black suit as he has for two months, silently watched the video showing his hours of interviews.

Agents began videotaping him shortly before he asked for a lie detector test, which was not done.

What jurors don’t know, because of legal reasons, is that agents instead showed him a video of his son’s alleged confession, though agents do mention his son’s interviews on the videos. It was then, according to prosecutors, that Umer Hayat changed his story and told the truth.

His attorney, Johnny Griffin III, maintains that Umer Hayat was worried about his son and felt pressured by agents’ leading questions, so he told the FBI what they wanted to hear.

Umer and Hamid Hayat, both U.S. citizens, remain without bail in the Sacramento County Jail.

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